The History of Leith

February 16, 2005

A letter from Mary of Guise to Doysel (Commander of the French Forces at Leith 1560)

Covering the period 17,19 and 21 May 1560
1. Has notice that besides the mine which the English make at the citadel, they are making another at St. Anthony, more secret and known to few of the Scots, which one who has been in it tells her is already nearly the length of a bute, commencing from the trench. They have twenty seven men working in it, and five on guard. They are driving it straight for the flanker, and by Monday or Tuesday they will be beyond the curtain. More than twelve days since she bold him that they thought of mining St. Anthony, the libtle bulwark near the mill, and the citadel ; and later by the spy of Captain Sarlabois, which she does not know whether he has received. Her leg is better, the heat has gone; she has been her own doctor and surgeon.
2. She informed him by the spy that Croftes was gone to Berwick ; she has since learnt that it was Howard. Their cavalry has gone, and there has arrived within the last eight days in two bodies, about 700 men from Berwick-.
3. Yesterday the Prior, Ruthven, the Master of Maxwell, and Lethington came twice, with whom she entered into communication, hoping thereby to open a means of communicating with the person addressed; but was unable, for they wished her, before speaking with him, to agree to send all the French out of Scotland according to the offer of the Bishop of Valence, and which caused them to do nothing. Bothwell has asked leave to go to France; she has sent an ample despatch by him, and another by Wilson, a kinsman of the Bishop of Dumblane, who has just returned from France. Edinburgh Castle, 17 May.
4. They must not expect succour before July; if in the meanwhile he is in danger and can find means to warn her, she will again try to negociate. This afternoon, the man who has seen the mines has told her that there is water in the mine at St. Anthony; but that in that by the citadel they find the earth hard and firm. They have commenced mining at the last trench, advancing towards the citadel, and have gone ten or twelve paces; the beginning is with masonry, the remainder not ; and the ground is so compact that the mine is like a vault; hence they have great hope.
5. On Wednesday a gentleman coming from France through England was taken, who is in the Duke’s hands and with whom she has not yet means of speaking, but he appears to be Captain Chaperon. The report is that he brings some pardons and commissions under the Great Seal to M. de Valence. Her people seek every occasion to quarrel with her. She has had no means of despatching this until the present day, the 19 May, at which time she hears that the enemy have very much advanced the mine, and they count to finish it by Wednesday. They say that they know they are countermined, but that theirs is so deep that they pass under the counter- mine. They find the fort of Peleric [Pelham] strong, and it is said that they have another mine going towards the mill bulwark Five fleet of victuallers have entered into the island on the coast of Fife.
6. She has heard to-day (the 21st) that the enemy have reached the waters edge, and want to pass under the palisade of the French to make a sortie within. In the commencement they had only three men abreast at work, but now they have twenty in the said mine. It were good to dig well on this side the water in order to meet them.
Endd.: The Queen Dowager of Scotlands letter deciphered. Fr. Pp. 4.

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